Published on June 14th, 2012 | by James Whittington
Another month another monochrome adventure for the Doctor and his companions and like most black and white serials this one has a rather chequered relationship with fans even though it was the first to come from the pen of Doctor Who legend Robert Holmes.
When the TARDIS arrives on the planet of the Gonds, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe discover a world ruled and enslaved by the Krotons. The brightest Gonds are always chosen to serve as companions of the Krotons and are never seen again. The Doctor and his companions decide to put a stop to their rule – but in doing so, inadvertently unleash the true power and terror of the Krotons instead.
OK, this isn’t the finest Second Doctor adventure mainly because the story plods somewhat and has very few plot strands to keep those of a low attention span engaged, but there is much on offer to enjoy here. Patrick Troughton is firing on all cylinders with some fine dark moments of humour, such as when his umbrella gets destroyed. The Doctor becomes agitated at times with people around him adding to his more serious persona. You can see where Matt Smith has gotten some of his quirks from. Frazer Hines is given a more serious side to Jamie to flesh out making him more three dimensional.
Wendy Padbury as Zoe also has slightly more to do, her brainy character is given a cheeky sense of humour and is less po-faced. As for the supporting cast, Phil Madoc as Eelek is the standout performer. This guy was just fantastic in everything he appeared in, check his commentary on this disc.
The big let-down is the Krotons themselves which, to be fair, are pretty unimpressive even for the time this was made (1968). Poorly designed with comedy voices any attempt to make them seem oppressive or antagonistic falls flat. Shame as they could have added that little bit extra that would have made this more appealing to casual fans.
The picture and sound are almost faultless here, the care that has been taken in the transfer is highly commendable and looks brand new.
Commentary – Toby Hadoke moderates actors Philip Madoc, Richard Ireson and Gilbert Wynne, assistant floor manager David Tilley, make-up designer Sylvia James, costume designer Bobi Bartlett and special sounds designer Brian Hodgson as they guide us (not all at the same time but in groups) through this adventure. Hadoke is, as you’d expect full of trivia helping spark flashes of information from the team. A great commentary from an often over-looked era.
Second Time Around-The Troughton Years – This wonderful documentary looks at the way in which Patrick Troughton took over the role of the Doctor and his time on the show. Glorious and filled with wonderful anecdotes this is a great extra with contributions from people from that time including Frazer Hines, Terrence Dicks and Wendy Padbury as well as Gary Russell and Robert Sherman.
Doctor Who Stories-Frazer Hines (Part One) – Taken from footage recorded for the BBC’s Story Of Doctor Who in 2003, Frazer Hines chats happily about his role in the series.
The Doctor’s Strange Love: The Krotons – Writers Joseph Lidster and Simon Guerrier take an affectionate look at The Krotons. OK, this is a very self-indulgent extra and will probably be only viewed once but worth having a look at.
Photo Gallery – Snaps from the production of the story.
Info Text – Still the greatest extra of the series of DVD releases, here you’ll find more nuggets of interesting trivia and lashings of humour.
PDF Materials – Pop the disc into your Mac or PC and marvel at scans taken from the original Radio Times listings for this adventure.
Coming Soon – A polished and effective piece of promo work for the forthcoming The Greatest Show In The Galaxy DVD.
So then, not exactly Troughton’s best but has enough to make it fun if not totally free from fault.
This review is respectively dedicated to the legendary Philip Madoc, one of Doctor Who’s most talented character actors and one of the nicest guys in the business.
Set for release on July 2nd, The Krotons can be pre-ordered from Amazon for just £13.00!